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Sanyo's DSC-MZ2 (left) and DSC-MZ3 (right) digital camera. Courtesy of Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sanyo announces DSC-MZ3 digital camera (UPDATED)
(Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - 03:20 EDT)

Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. has today announced a replacement for its DSC-MZ2 digital camera that takes the movie capabilities of the prior model a step further.

Where most digital cameras today offer only the most basic video quality - low resolution and slow frame rates conspiring to make the videos watchable only in a tiny window on a computer monitor, or on the camera's own display - the DSC-MZ3 can capture a respectable 30 frames per second at 640x480 resolution, with clips of about 30 - 40 seconds depending on CompactFlash write speed (the page is somewhat difficult to translate; it seems to say that on a 1GB Microdrive the camera can record clips as long as 12 minutes!). Whilst this video might still be somewhat more limited than a camcorder might offer due to the maximum clip lengths, there aren't many camcorders that offer 2.11 megapixel still images - and fewer still that cost less than US$500. Sanyo says that the video quality is "about the same" as TV, and good enough to use for DVD authoring...

The DSC-MZ3 will ship in Japan on September 20th at a cost of ¥58,000 (US$491 / €500 / £321 ignoring exchange rate fluctuations, taxes and duties) with a monthly production of 15,000 units. Unlike many Japanese cameras which sell in a variety of different colors catering to individual tastes, the 'MZ3 will be available in silver only. A rough translation of some highlights for the camera, and improvements from the prior model, courtesy of Sanyo follow:

  • The industry's highest digital camera movie quality (the company says it is currently the only one to offer a consumer digicam with 30 frames per second at 640 x 480 pixels)
  • Improved response times:
    • 1.7 seconds for startup and 1 second to zoom from full wide to full tele thanks to newly designed 3x zoom lens
    • 0.8 seconds shot-to-shot in 640x480 pixel NORM mode
    • 1.2 seconds shot-to-shot in 1600x1200 pixel FINE mode
    • 0.2 seconds shot-to-shot reviewing 640x480 pixel NORM-mode images
  • 1/1.8" 2.11 megapixel primary color VPmixCCD imager with drive frequency of 36MHz and 4.4&pico;m pixel pitch
  • New graphics processing LSI, "Hyper RISC Graphics Processor IV" which uses Sanyo's "Trinity Real" and "Real Color Equalizer III" technologies, claimed to offer better color accuracy and smoother tonal gradations
  • Maximum video length in 160x120 pixel mode of 180 minutes (!)
  • Best-in-class burst mode speed of 15 frames per second at full 2 megapixel resolution (normal mode only) for 15 frames (one second)
  • Precapture mode continuously captures and discards images whilst shutter button is held down, then saves the most recent 15 images when the shutter button is released
  • Extended battery life
  • Dual menu system (Basic and Expert) allows for differing skill levels, hiding options for less skilled users and displaying them for skilled users
  • Enhanced movie editing and playback functions including
    • Ability to interpolate video and remove JPEG artifacts for viewing on TV from 160x120 and 320x240 videos
    • Cropping and joining movies
    • Extracting still images from movie files
    • Reverse playback, and 2x / 20x cueing
    • Ability to show slideshows of still images and movies together, with 1, 4, 7 or 10 second delay between still images
  • Ability to interpolate images from two to three megapixels (adds two seconds to processing times)
  • New 1090mAh Lithium Ion battery and improved power management claimed to double battery life of the DSC-MZ2 (when recording QVGA video at 30fps on a 1GB Microdrive at normal temperature.)
  • PC camera functionality allows the DSC-MZ3 to be used for videoconferencing on Windows XP machines over the USB connection (frame rate dependant on the host PC's processor power.)
  • New stainless steel body which is smaller than the DSC-MZ2 in all directions, and only 32.5mm thick
  • Variable strength digital zoom (5x at 160x120 pixels, 2.5x at 320x240 or 640x480 pixels
  • Playback zoom up to 31x in the interpolated three megapixel mode
  • Ability to crop images in-camera
  • Macro focusing to 10cm
  • Best Shot mode allows capture of 4 images, then manual selection of which is the best (the other three are discarded)
  • Automatic exposure bracketing for ±1.8EV in 0.3EV steps, for a maximum of 13 photos.
  • Overlay mode captures two images on top of each other
  • In-camera resizing of images from 3 or 2 megapixel to VGA or 1/4VGA for email use
  • Voice memo function allows 4 second sound clips attached to each image
  • Voice recorder function
  • In-camera image rotation (for TV playback)
  • Ability to turn on/off camera startup/shutdown/shutter/keypress sounds
  • Ability to adjust automatic power-off time for battery and AC use
  • Exif Print (Exif v2.2) compliance
  • USB Mass Storage Class compliance
  • Bundled with Ulead PhotoExplorer 7.0 SE Platinum and Real Color Equalizer 3.0 ON PC software
  • Record times in various resolutions on a 1GB Microdrive(approximate)
    • 640 x 480 pixels 30fps: 12 minutes
    • 640 x 480 pixels 15fps: 24 minutes
    • 320 x 240 pixels / FINE 30fps: 28 minutes
    • 320 x 240 pixels / FINE 15fps: 56 minutes
    • 320 x 240 pixels / NORM 30fps: 54 minutes
    • 320 x 240 pixels / NORM 15fps: 105 minutes
    • 160 x 120 pixels 30fps: 100 minutes
    • 160 x 120 pixels 30fps: 191 minutes

Full specifications and product photos, including several exclusive photos comparing the new DSC-MZ3 with its older sibling, the DSC-MZ2, follow.

Sanyo DSC-MZ3
Model DSC-MZ3
Effective Pixels 1,950,000 pixels
Image Sensor 1/1.8" 2,110,000 pixel primary color progressive scan CCD
Recording Medium CompactFlash Type-I/II and Microdrive
Image Format
Still Image: JPEG, TIFF (uncompressed); complies with DCF, DPOF and Exif v2.2
Movie: QuickTime PhotoJPEG with mono WAV audio
Image Size
Still Image
2000 x 1496 (interpolated)
1600 x 1200
640 x 480
640 x 480
320 x 240
160 x 120
F=7.7mm - 23.1mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm - 111mm); 3x optical zoom
f2.7 (wide) - f4.9 (tele) auto focus
Focusing Range Macro: 10cm - 50cm
Normal: 50cm - ∞
Shutter Speed
Still Image: 16 - 1/2500 second (1/4 - 1/2500 second in Program AE mode; 1/30 - 1/2500 second with flash on)
Burst mode: 1/10 to 1/10000 second
Movie: 1/15 to 1/10000 second
Digital Zoom Record: Up to 5x at 160x120 pixel
Playback: Up to 31x at 3 megapixel interpolated
Exposure Control
Program AE / Shutter Priority AE / Aperture Priority AE / Manual
Exposure Compensation: ±1.8EV in 0.3EV steps
Metering: Area, center-weighted, spot

Auto: ISO 100 - 200
Manual: ISO 100 / 200 / 400

White Balance Auto: Full Auto TTL
Manual: 5 presets
Flash Built-in modulated strength
(Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye Reduction)
Sound Microphone: Built-in monaural
Speaker: Built-in monaural
LCD Monitor 110,000 pixels (approx.) 1.5" low temperature polysilicon TFT color LCD. 100% coverage.
Viewfinder Optical real-image zoom
Interface Video (composite NTSC)
Sound (mono proprietary jack)
USB 1.1 (proprietary jack)
Power Source Lithium Ion battery (DB-L10, bundled)
AC adapter (DSA-47, optional)
Battery Life LCD on, record mode: 310 images
Playback: 210 minutes
Size / Weight 99 (W) x 55 (H) x 32.5 (D) mm excluding projections
210 grams (camera only)
Accessories Proprietary AV and USB cables, Software Pack 6.2 CD-ROM, Lithium Ion battery and charger / power cord, hand strap
More Photos
Sanyo's DSC-MZ2 (bottom) and DSC-MZ3 (top) digital camera. Courtesy of Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins.

UPDATED 2002-08-21 15:42ET: Thanks to IR reader Jerry Oneill for catching a mistake in one of the linked images above. This has now been fixed...
Source: Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.

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